UFC 162: From Disaster to Champion, Chris Weidman KOs Anderson Silva

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UFC 162: From Disaster to Champion, Chris Weidman KOs Anderson Silva
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Spor

At UFC 162 on Saturday, Chris Weidman shocked the MMA world when he knocked out the great Anderson Silva to become the new UFC middleweight champion.

The victory not only represented an end of an era in the 185-lb division but also the culmination of a journey for the newly crowned middleweight king from disaster last October to becoming a world champion just nine months later.

Hurricane Sandy arrived on the Atlantic coast of the United States in October 2012. The 115-mile-per-hour winds destroyed thousands of homes, including Chris Weidman's. Ariel Helwani famously visited Weidman's neighbourhood seven days after the storm hit, and everyone could see the scale of devastation.

Such a large-scale disaster might normally deter and derail an individual from his path, but Weidman only became more determined and motivated to reach his goal of becoming the new UFC middleweight champion.

Sport history is full of inspirational stories of glory despite adversity. Whether it is South Africa's rugby World Cup-winning side of 1995, Iraq claiming the 2007 AFC Asia Cup in the face of war or the New Orleans Saints winning the Super Bowl in 2010 with Hurricane Katrina still in the minds of the players, hardship and disaster have a way of motivating athletes to a point where it seems they cannot be stopped.

Some call this destiny.

Weidman was not carrying the hopes of a nation on his shoulders like South Africa's ruggers or Iraq's footballers. This was more of a personal battle, and his drive stemmed from his desire to change the fortunes of his family after the catastrophe.

Weidman was still dealing with the destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy in the run-up to his date with Silva, but this only added fuel to his fire. The hurricane and its aftermath put the prospect of fighting perhaps the greatest of all time into a unique perspective that other contenders had not experienced.

Weidman had faced the worst and had battled it for nine months. A five-round contest with Silva was suddenly a small hurdle in comparison to the second-costliest hurricane in U.S. history.

His focus was undeniable as he entered the Octagon and stood opposite the champion and pound-for-pound king. Silva tried to get under his opponent's skin, but Weidman also proved his mental steel.

Silva taunted him during the first round, but after the American scored the early takedown and was never really troubled by Silva, it was clear Weidman was ready for the antics. He was focused enough not to lose his chance at UFC middleweight gold the same way that others had before him.

Silva started the second round in the same vein, but this was ultimately his downfall. He was not facing Demian Maia or Thales Leites. Weidman was not just a challenger aiming to win UFC gold—he was so much more.

When Weidman landed the combination that finally dethroned "The Spider" and Dana White wrapped the middleweight title around his waist, it was the symbol of victory not just over Silva but over disaster.

A tearful Weidman told Joe Rogan post fight, "I felt I was destined for this. I still felt it was a little far-fetched but I imagined it a billion times."

Weidman did what he vowed to and changed the fortunes of his family by becoming world champion. However, with work still to be done in his neighbourhood, you can bet "The All-American" will carry on his work in the recovery from Hurricane Sandy.

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